Ski Dubai sucks.
Whatever you want to make it: it ain’t. Whether you are an old timer looking to relive those far away moments on the slopes or a polar bear lost and seeking shelter, you’re going to be as disappointed as the kid at Chuckie Cheese’s that realizes the good prizes cost 8,000 jackpots worth of tickets. And if you’re a first timer — forget it. The 400-ft. slope lacks all of the things that make first-time skiers want to come back for a second. No scenery (it’s indoors); no choice of trails (it’s in a mall), no babes in the lodge (it’s Dubai); no hot chocolate at the bottom (cause fuck you, that’s why).
I was there for the jumps. Throw a couple of lumps in the ground and anyone can get some practice in the air — especially when there’s nothing more exciting to ski. But as is often the case in places with little to do, the best parts are usually off limits. A fence guarded the three actionless ramps.
Half-way up the three-minute chairlift, we passed through a sarcastic midstation — a pitstop for those content with just the bottom half of the sledding hill, or for those heading into the refuge of the midslope lodge. I asked the two lift attendants why the “terrain park” wasn’t open, and they apologized, reporting that the jumps guy just wasn’t in today. No one else could watch over that area — apparently they’re all too busy watching over youngsters trying to enjoy themselves rolling down stubby hills in balls shaped like Pierce Brosnan’s jacket in Die Another Day.
After another couple runs, my hands had frozen into wet, red stumps, paralyzed in the climate of the zero degree (Celsius) super fridge. See, Ski Dubai gives you a thin 1980s snowsuit, skis and ill-fitting boots, but for those who didn’t bring winter gloves with them on their move to the scorching desert, cold fingers are the only alternative to purchasing Courcheval-quality handware. On principle, you’ll choose frostbite.
Luckily, downstairs in the stupid lodge is a bathroom with running water that feels warm (might just be your blood vessels contracting), and will ease the pain long enough for you to get your fifty bucks worth.
I noticed that a woman had come to unfenced the ski ramps, and got off one rusty attempt before popping my skis off and hiking back up to the top of the lead-in. The guard stared me down. “No.” There was no one around. “You can’t walk this way.”
I looked up at the empty slope. To bar entry, you’ve got to have something that needs protecting. That’s why there’s glass around the Mona Lisa but no velvet rope around the Sahara. Fuck it.
So Ski Dubai does one thing right. After less than two hours, you turn back towards the admittedly bizarre revolving door that separates the “mountain” from the mall. Like most places in Dubai, the price tag seems at first a bit exorbitant, but when your bone marrow has chilled and your face is numb with boredom, Ski Dubai gives you that rare satisfaction — you’ve had more than enough.